Jaromir Jagr turns 44 years old today, which would be a perfect time to marvel at how the Florida Panthers forward continues to excel in the NHL at this advanced age were it not for the fact that we’ll be doing the same thing when he turns 50.
Instead, let’s honor this beloved international hockey icon by looking back at the way he was when his sick flow first entered the League with the Pittsburgh Penguins and skated into our hearts.
Here’s a look back at Lil’ Jagr.
But first, a look back at really, really Lil’ Jagr:
Look at that little cherub.
This was a Kladno school photo taken in 1978-79, when rocking a polka-dot shirt under your cozy sweater was the thing to do.
Unverifiable fact: Jagr was voted “Most Likely To Run An Illegal Poker Game During Recess.”
Jagr playing junior hockey, and showing the early days of his sick salad. In case you ever wondered what a young Bill Corgan might look like as a hockey player.
This is the last time Jagr would line up next to unremarkable wood paneling until skating on a line with Aleksey Morozov some years later.
Jagr on his draft day with the Penguins in 1990. The photographer was going for “what if someone from an 80s synth pop band was asked to explain the second law of thermodynamics?”
Jagr was taken fifth in the draft that year. The New York Islanders selected Scott Scissons sixth overall, no doubt celebrating that the fourth-best center in the draft was still available after the Penguins stupidly took that Czech kid with the weird hair.
Jagr in black and white, which removes the color from a photo but apparently increases the ADORBZ.
Seriously, all the heart emojis. All of them. This is a Hertl-level of adorbz.
Jagr at the 1992 NHL All-Star Game, becoming one of the few players in history to wear two helmets simultaneously.
Seriously, look at that thing. It’s a miracle Jagr wasn’t kidnapped by Colombians who would then use his hair as a drug mule.
One of the most iconic photos of Jagr’s career, as Mario and Mario Jr. pose with the Stanley Cup. Lemieux had to have Mullet Envy, right?
Every time we see this photo we can’t help but think it’s the greatest TGIF sitcom that never happened. ("What happens when a Canadian playboy meets the young Czech clone he never knew existed? Find out on 'Double Minor!' after 'Full House'...)
Jagr and his mother celebrating the Stanley Cup in the Penguins’ locker room.
She has that “I can’t believe I just shot-gunned a Keystone out of this thing” look.
Jaromir Jagr is a detective roaming the mean streets of Pittsburgh who DOESN’T PLAY BY THE RULES.
Here are Jagr and Martin Straka. We assume they're walking on set as extras, about to get round-housed by Jean-Claude Van Damme as he takes down an Eastern European crime syndicate.
Also who the hell tucks in a fleece pullover?
Here’s Jagr attempting to feed Luc Robitaille a sardine.
Because what else would you do in a room alone with Luc Robitaille and a tin of sardines?
Jagr on an Upper Deck card, rocking some mom jeans. We’re pretty sure a variation of this photo has been used as the cover of countless hockey slash-fiction books.
Now, some video:
Here's a 14-minute documentary segment on Jagr from Czech television, which is great and includes this scene of Jagr dismembering a referee doll -- in this case, it appears to have Ron Hoggarth's name on the back.
And finally ...
This photo was from several years after Jagr entered the NHL, but look: It’s his birthday. And what do you give the man who has everything, apparently including a sensible belt and a hefty amount of conditioner? His own signature peanut butter, of course.
Happy birthday, Jags.
You’re the greatest thing about the NHL today.
Please never leave.